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( archives / 2001 )

Hemp of Northeast Kansas


03/18/99 / New York Times -- Government Study of Marijuana Sees Medical Benefits
05/21/99 / Los Angeles Times -- Clinton to lift restrictions, make marijuana available for research
11/29/00 / The Los Angeles Times -- Supreme Court calls a halt to narcotics roadblocks
01/20/01 / Lawrence Journal-World / WORLD -- Belgium Parliament to leqalize marijuana possession


2/9/01 / Lawrence Journal-World / Katrina Hull - Associated Press Writer

Prisons eye drug-abuse treatment cuts

Corrections officials say they're forced to slice $1.7 million from budget

TOPEKA - When Gov. Bill Graves decided to recommend a cut in spending on programs for prison inmates, the Department of Corrections was forced to decide what should go. Corrections Secretary Charles Simmons told a House Appropriations subcommittee Thursday that he doesn't particularly like his decision to propose an elimination of substance-abuse treatment programs inside prisons. Even more upset is the company providing the treatment. "I urge you not to take a huge step backward," said Beverly Metcalf, president, Mirror Inc., a Newton contractor for substance abuse treatment.

Graves recommended a $1.7 million decrease in spending on offender programs for the state's 2002 fiscal year, which begins July 1. He left the decision of exactly where to propose cuts to Simmons. "They're not choices we wanted to make," Simmons said. In the remaining $9.7 million recommended for offender services, the department kept programs to treat sexual offenders and academic and vocational education programs. Without extra money, substance abuse treatment programs' inside prisons will expire. Simmons said the system still will address substance abuse through community programs. And he wants legislators -- if they can - to restore the dollars for the substance abuse treatment programs. "It's absolutely a priority," he said. "It's not an issue we are backing away from." But Metcalf and some legislators questioned the department's priorities. Metcalf testified that between 75 percent and 95 percent of the prison population has a substance-abuse problem.' If those problems are not treated, she said, former inmates return to prison for crimes linked to their addictions.

3/12/01 / University Daily-Kansan / Eric Borja - Editorial

War on drugs lost cause; substances should be legal

I came to the University of Kansas living in a dream world. I thought that if we spent millions of dollars to beef up border security, had stringent rules outlawing any illicit drugs and enforced those rules with a heavy hand, we could diminish America's drug problem. But this semester, I had an epiphany that totally changed my outlook on America's war on drugs. It's not America that has a drug problem; individuals have drug problems, chemical addictions. And trying to stop an entire population from using drugs is impossible. I came to this epiphany after three major events. I watched the movie Traffic, read the recent Kansan articles on meth and heard the infamous "Honk for Hemp" guy, Mark Creamer, speak to my journalism class.

After taking the respective messages from each of those things, it made me realize that we are never going to stop drug consumption totally. Traffic made me realize how far behind we are in stopping illegal drugs from entering this country. The Kansan articles made me realize how easy it was to make drugs such as meth. And Creamer made me realize that people are always going to use drugs even if the law says they can't. At colleges across the country, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are starting up chapters to stop binge. drinking on college campuses. Although noble in intent, they are living in the same dream world I Lived in for years. Stopping binge drinking in college is impossible. Binge drinking just like illegal drug use, often falls under the category of "that's just the way tings are." Trying to stop that is just a complete waste of time. People drink, smoke pot, sniff glue, shoot heroin, roll on ecstasy and snort cocaine to take themselves away from the crappy Ken Burns documentaries that are their lives.

The desire to be in an altered mindstate is profoundly common. Since the dawn of time, people have inventing different ways to take their minds to another place. Today, some people do this by skydiving, drinking coffee or listening to music. But unfortunately, some people use illegal drugs to feel good. That's just the way it is. My guess is that if you keep making the rules stricter and trying to discourage drug use and drug trade, people will spend more money to get the drugs and will want to do drugs even more. It's simple supply and demand. I understand where MADD is coming from. Most of the members have lost a close friend or relative in a drunk driving accident. What they should be focusing their efforts on is the driving part, not the drinking part. People will never stop drinking.

As for America's war on drugs - good luck. Just as fake IDs are easy to make, so are drugs such as meth. The war on drugs has become just another platform politicians use to con us into a vote. We are inundated with as many pro-drug images as we are with anti-drug images. Movies such as Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting glamorize drug use, at least to some extent, and make it seem like a cool thing to do. Then we are exposed to pathetic anti-drug campaigns, such as Matthew Perry public service announcements and the Univerisity's own "zero-to-five drinks" ad campaign.

Creamer spoke about legalizing marijuana. I say legalize all drugs, and then dealers will be competing to have lower prices. As a result, drugs would lose their glamour and mystique. They would become completely boring, and the appeal for them would be lost. Moreover, lawmakers would have legitimate reasons to regulate drugs, making them considerably less dangerous. But who am I kidding. We all need something to dream about.

3/26/01 / Lawrence Journal-World / NATION

Cannabis club defends marijuana therapy

OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - A few years ago, an author writing about death asked ailing AIDS patient Michael Alcalay how he was accepting dying. "I'm not accepting it," Alcalay retorted. Alcalay is alive today thanks in part, he believes, to doses of marijuana that helped him keep his medicines down and appetite up as he fought the disease. On Wednesday, Alcalay will be in the audience as lawyers try to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that federal anti-drug laws shouldn't prevent marijuana from being given to seriously ill patients for pain relief. "Once the justices recognize what's really at stake in this case, if any semblance of justice prevails then so will we," said Robert Raich, an attorney representing the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative. The cooperative is a distribution club operating under California's Proposition 215, the voter-approved law that allows the possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes on a doctor's recommendation. That's where Alcalay used to get his marijuana. But he's had to look elsewhere since the federal government sued the cooperative and five other Califorma pot clubs in 1998 to prevent them from distributing the drug. A federal judge sided with the government. But last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that "medical necessity" is a legal defense.

California officials, including Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer, argue that the state has the right to enforce its medical marijuana law, which was approved by voters in 1996. Distribution clubs sprang up because Proposition 215 is silent on how patients will get marijuana, outside of growing and harvesting it themselves. The Supreme Court is not looking directly at Proposition 215, but rather at whether medical necessity may be used as a defense against federal drug bans. It's unclear whether the justices will rule on that general issue or rule more narrowly on how lower courts have handled this case. If the court says "Yes" to the necessity defense, it could make it easier to distribute medical marijuana in California and the eight other states with similar laws - Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Nevada and Colorado.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer has recused himself because he is the brother of Charles Breyer, the federal district judge who ordered the club to stop distributing marijuana. The club remains open, but only to sell legal hemp products and maintain a membership database. Advocates say marijuana is a reliable and nontoxic therapy that in some cases is the only relief for suffering people. That point of view was endorsed recently by the Institute of Medicine. The institute, which was asked to examine the issue by the White House drug policy office, said that because the chemicals in marijuana ease anxiety, stimulate appetite, ease pain and reduce nausea and vomiting, they can be helpful for people undergoing chemotherapy and people with AIDS.

Institute officials also warned that smoking marijuana can cause respiratory disease and recommended development of forms of the drug that could be taken in other ways.

3/25/01 / LJW / Washington (AP)

Prison population increases, but rate of incarceration slows

WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of Americans in state prisons last year increased at the slowest rate since 1971, though the total number of peopie incarcerated in the United States remained at a record high in 2000, the Justice Department reported Sunday. As of June 2000, 1,931,859 people were in federal, state and local facilities, a 3 percent increase over June 1999. The increase was primarily in the number of people in federal prisons, researchers said. The majority of people behind bars in the United States are in state prisons, and this population grew by just 1.5 percent, the smallest annual growth rate in 29 years, according to a report by the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Racial disparities in prison populations were profound, the report showed:

Black males were incarcerated in record numbers - a total of 791,600 black men were in prison, a new high. Nearly one in eight black males age 20 to 34 were in prison on any given day, the report said.

Racial minorities account for 79 percent of all state prison drug offenders.

The total number of prisoners in state correctional facilities was 1,242,962 as of June 2000. Eleven states reported a decline in their inmate populations from 1999 to 2000, including two of the nation's largest state prison systems - California and New York. Allen J. Beck, a co-author of the bureau report, said that state prison populations fell because crime is down across the country. Crime has been falling for several years but, until last year, that did not have the effect of slowing the rate of growth in the prison population because stricter sentencing rules were keeping inmates in jail longer. "The drop in crime is finally starting to show up in a smaller growth rate in the number of prisoners," Beck said.